" CARDS On the table, face
upwards " is said to be the expected key-note of the Foreign Ministers' Moscow Conference which begins to-morrow. It is a maxim for which this paper, at least, has always pressed. The plain facts of. the situation have been made amply • clear through the unhappy course of events since Teheran.
Britain and America were sincerely working at the beginning for a peace based on the Atlantic Charter. This meant, in essence, a peace of mutual understanding and compromise between all the Powers for the .common good, as defined in our war aims for the restoration and, ultimately, universal recognition Of human liberties, spiritual, moral, social, economic and political. Tragically (as we think) an exception was made in regard to the defeated nations. Under the stress of an increasingly her and brutal war Britain and America slipped into the aim of a Carthaginian peace for Germany. Russia, which paid at least lip-service to the common ideals, held her hand in this matter (or a time. In the end she came to share the Western aim in regard to the defeated enemy. and went even further
We may or we may not hold that Soviet Russia under her present leaders was capable of sincerely sharing at any rate the broad purposes of the Atlantic Charter so far as a world peace organisstion was concerned ; but the question, in a sense, became academic For the common intention to destroy Germany (an intention which involved sharing the spoils. even though that may not have been the real purpose of the destruction) inevitably set going the scramble for a secure and strong postwar position among the Allies. Britain and America. in fact, sought to avoid this consequence, partly because they genuinely did not want spoils and partly because they feared a split between East and West before the war was won. Russia (if we take the view that the spread of Communism whether by preaching or by forceful imposition was her ultimate aim in any event) decided, in view of the way matters were moving, to choose the alternative of spreading it by pressure of unilateral force and cunning diplomacy which worked on the Western fear of a split What was the consequence?
Russia's Position THE net result has been—and we may
discount all the conferences, including the San Francisco one. as irrelevant to this issue—that Soviet Russia holds to-day. directly or indirectly. power over the whole of the northern half of the Western hemisphere with the control of strategic opening towards Christendom in the West, towards the sea-route between Christendom and the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. towards the Middle) fast and India, towards China and the South of the Far-Eastern mainland, and towards Canada and the United States across the Arctic—a point too frequently overlooked by people unaccustomed to aerial warfare.
Any study of the situation on a map makes amply clear that Soviet Russia
has issued from the war with a potential power to which there is no parallel in history. This fact alone out-dates all considerations either about whether Russia remains the protagonist of Communism or a plain imperialism about whether Russia's . present aims are expansionist or defensive. and about whether Russia's internal strength is sufficient to support such pretensions These questions will become important again one day—vitally Important—but for the next few years (in which actual war is more or less inconceivable) what alone counts is the fact that Soviet Russia strategically dominates the whole world, and might choose any policy.
The inevitable result of this development is that her two rival Powers, Britain and America. have been forced to throw aside as immediately Irrelevant any ideas of an Atlantic Charter or even a U.N.O. peace and to give an absolute priority to their own strategicalpositions vls a vls Russia. America (rather more willingly) looks to the defeated Japanese Empire as her means of securing impregnability in the Far East and to Britain as her aircraftcarrier in the West, while Britain (very reluctantly) wonders how far communications with her far-flung Empire and the Dominions can be secured. while these look back towards Britain as the ultimate key to their own security
Meanwhile into this situation is dropped the revolutionary weapon of atomic energy.
This in tact is the real situation. and it is the situation with which the Foreign Ministers. without once mentioning the truth openly, will be concerned. These are the genuine cards face upwards
IN handling the situation two points will be of paramount importance. The first is the universal fear of another war, now that the atomic bomb is added to flying bombs and rockets. The second is that the one possible safeguard against war is the prevention of any one of the three great Powers becoming or remaining strong enough to feel that the risk of war may still be worthwhile.
Britain obviously plays a weak hand, but not a hopeless one if she understands the value of the cards and the way to handle them. Her real hope lies io a double policy: her assumption. in equal partnership with France of the leadership of WesWn Europe and the federating of the Uemmonwealth for a unified military. political and economic outlook. (The reader may here note the danger of the American loan.) Ultimately there is a reasonable prosneet of an interlocking of the two systems with Britain the common key.
It is true that neither militarily nor economically could this third system compare with the American or the Russian, but it carries with it one very
important asset Itprovides the real strength behind the idealism of the United Nations Organisation and other instruments of a human international neace policy. If war is really to be avoided, ultimately it must come to a moral solution and in the end Russia must be converted to this So that the European-Commonwealth system. with its traditions, moral strength, high civilisation, while sufficiently strung to force some bargains, points all the time towards the future as it must be, if the world is to endure.
The Way To Play It ALL this indicates clearly enough what Mr Bevin's plans should he --and indeed he has shown plenty of signs of understanding what is at stake Above all, it is essential for Britain to stand close to France. and to insist on French representation in all 'European decisions. Though we believe, as suggested above, that the trouble arose from the attempt to destroy Germany and therefore are in principle against the dismemberment of Germany, matters have now gone so far as to make it wisest for Britain to hack up the French insistence on separating the Rhineland and the Ruhr from Germany. But in return we must insist on the genuine Internationalisation of these districts in the common Interests of Europe. including Germany. Germany herself, as well as Italy. must be re-established. We cannot afford to play with Left extremists in Greece. and an end must be put at once to the suicidal nonsense of baiting Spain. whatever regime may be in power within the country. The time Is coming when the genuineness of a man's patriotism towards his country and towards Europe may be measured by his attitude to Spain. And the point needs to he noted in France oven more than in this country.
Obviously we must support America since America and the European-Commonwealth system will stand together under stress. but we must not allow ourselves to become instruments of
America. That would destroy our chance of leadership. break the Empire and imperil Europe. Equally we must support the United Nations Organisation and work towards establishing its authority over the Big Three by eliminating the veto.
For the moment. having clearly defined what is strategically and economically vital to our interests and being determined to stand by that. we shall be better employed in promoting the European-Commonwealth system than in sniping at Russia Communism is weakening outside the Russian zone and weakening even within its pert. phera, so that we are gaining ground And time is needed to build up out system while politely holding Russia at arm's length Tragic as is the position of enserfed countries like Poland, the Baltic States. the Balkans and Hungary. in the end even their interests depend upon a world stability which can lead in time to reconversion towards human international ideals. And it is m leading towards that goal that Britain can save herself and the world.
MR. BEVAN AND THE DOCTORS IT is obvious, as the Minister for Health has pointed out, that any National Health System will affect the freedom of doctors to practise wheresoever they choose. And this has its bearing on the question of the sale of practices, which the Minister declared his intention of abolishing. His statement on the matter was declared by Mr. Willink to be " vague and menacing," and Dr. Charles Hall. secretary of the negotiating committee of the medical profession, has spoken vigorously in defence of the present arrangement whereby a doctor who has built up a lucrative practice is able to dispose of the " good-will " to another practitioner. Seeing, however, that Mr. Bevan indicated that compensation would be offered for any practice taken over and disposed of by the National, Health System and the questionnaire on the matter issued by the British Medical Association in 1944 resulted in 50 Per cent. of the voters favouring the abolition of the present arrangement, there does not seem any overpowering argument against such abolition. And there is this much to he said for it : at present. those members of the profession. whatever their abilities, who possess little or no capital, are at a great disadvantage. It is true that payment is frequently deferred in such cases until the profits from his professional service enable the purchaser to meet the bill, but this is a heavy drain on a young doctor. It seems only just and in the interests of the community that the prizes of the profession should go to those who have given evidence of their superior ability. quite independent of their financial position. The increase of facilities to men and women of all ranks in entering the profession. which we may expect, adds to the strength of this argument.